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Image by David Gabric

The girl in class 2C

Today’s question on the board is clear –
write of beaches, cliffs and foaming spray

and yet young Tracey’s page is empty
and questioning makes her turn aside.

She says she has never seen the sea,
but heard it in a giant shell, that

her Granny keeps on the back-yard sill
and it hissed like wind in the dark

chimney. She knows each chipping on the road

around her streets, and where dandelions
spear between flagstones on Station

Avenue. Trains don’t travel here, not
now the coal is spent out. Buses are

infrequent and the library is shut.
But once the family opposite

took her in their hired car to
the fancy lido down the valley.

She had to change in the echoing
chamber, but while the others ran through
the foot bath to the pool, she lingered.

It seemed too bright, too blue. She did
not go again, preferring paddling

in the stream where once they found a sleek
dead rat and buried him with fullest

ceremony. No one knows her patch
as she does, and it is forest

at midnight, Apache burial
ground, planet Mars. Despite the wanton

boys around the sand sheds, it is her
ball park; it is her territory.

She writes down words like blue and cold, but
does not repeat – she has never seen

the sea.


They say their former teacher
never showed them a poem,
as they look at ‘Daffodils’

with curious suspicion,
as if it were a creature
tossing its head to bite or

startle with a glancing
sprightly movement.
I ask them to think

about how they
would walk in a garden,
or wander in nature

beyond the vale and lake.
Adeel jokes that he would
run with his football

but is admonished by Shen
who makes paper
flowers and leaves them

as gifts. The boys are pensive
waiting for a guide to dance
them through the margins

of the poem to the bay
where the inward eye waits.
They understand solitude

and the mind lost in thought.
But still the poem is a wary friend.
They wait for the host to open

the door to the stars where each
word twinkles and floats to bliss.

Jude Brigley is Welsh. She taught for forty years. She has been an editor and a performance poet. She is now writing more for the page and has been published in a variety of magazines including Blue Nib, Otherwise Engaged, The Lake and Scissortail.


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